IMO announces new plea for stranded seafarers
On the occasion of Human Rights Day the IMO again highlighted the plight of the hundreds of thousands of seafarers still stranded at sea and issued a powerful call for respect for their fundamental rights.
It is estimated that because of COVID-related travel limitations, 400,000 seafarers are currently stuck on ships past the end of their original contracts and unable to be repatriated.
For more than 18 months, some have now been employed at sea, way beyond the 11-month cap set in the ILO Maritime Labor Convention (MLC). A similar number of seafarers, unwilling to enter ships and provide for their families, are stuck at home.
“Sadly, we have seen human rights of seafarers, fishers and other marine workers put in jeopardy during the pandemic. This is a clear human rights issue. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable," stated IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
The Secretary-General warned that failure to safeguard the rights of seafarers, fishers and other marine workers will negatively impact the protection of shipping operations and have a negative impact on global supply chains.
“The biggest psychological effect was that you couldn’t see an end to it. None of us signed up for that. We want to go to work, do our job, and then come home. We didn’t sign up for what felt like an unjustified prison sentence,” said British Chief Engineer Matt Forster.
The IMO called on all Governments that have not already done so to appoint seafarers and marine personnel as key staff, with all the relevant travel, transit and vaccination priorities involved, and to enable seafarers to travel safely, using the recommended protocols for changing crew.
The UN General Assembly also called on UN Member States, in a resolution adopted on 1 December, to appoint seafarers and other marine personnel as key staff.
The Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) of the IMO continues to support distressed seafarers in desperate circumstances, to protect their human rights to decent working conditions, equal treatment, access to shore-based medical care and repatriation.
Maritime Business World